UConn's Breanna Stewart, the only college player on USA Basketball's 2014 World Championship team, is among 25 finalists for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team that will train at UConn Feb. 21-23.
Included on the list are 15 players who have earned a combined 41 Olympic and FIBA World Championship gold medals. The finalists were selected by the USA Basketball women's national team player selection committee – which includes Connecticut Sun general manager Chris Sienko. This group will also select the official 12-member U.S. Olympic Team later this year.
"I think the committee has a tough decision ahead of it," USA and UConn coach Geno Auriemma said in a press release.
Auriemma led the USA National Team to a 23-0 record and gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Championships.
"When I look at this list of athletes, we could split them down the middle and have two very competitive teams," Auriemma said. "We have a great mix of gold medalists and players who are hungry to play in their first Olympics. There is versatility at all positions. Our posts are the strongest we've seen in years, we have guys who can shoot, guys who can defend, and I'm just happy I don't have to make the decision as to who will be playing in Rio."
USA Basketball confirmed that the team will hold a short training camp at UConn in less than a month. Those taking part in the camp, expected to be the final training opportunity before the Olympic team is selected, will come from the pool of finalists and will be announced at a later date.
"Naming the Olympic Team finalists is another step in our selection process," Carol Callan, USA Basketball women's national team director and chair of the selection committee, said in a press release. "Because of the quality and talent in the USA National Team pool, every time we pare the list it is a difficult task. Yet, we eventually have to get down to a 12-member team, so we conscientiously look at the present goal of winning a gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games with an eye to sustaining our success in the future. This list of finalists is a mix of veterans, youth, international savvy and USA Basketball experience."
The other finalists are Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Tina Charles, Elena Delle Donne, Skylar Diggins, Stefanie Dolson, Candice Dupree, Sylvia Fowles, Brittney Griner, Briann January, Jantel Lavender, Kayla McBride, Angel McCoughtry, Maya Moore, Chiney Ogwumike, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Candace Parker, Danielle Robinson, Odyssey Sims, Diana Taurasi, Courtney Vandersloot and Lindsay Whalen.
Jewell Loyd, who participated in the USA National Team's minicamp in Las Vegas last May, has been to the national pool and is also a finalist.
"I think her addition is because of some of the success she had during the summer playing in Seattle," Auriemma said of Loyd. "There is a concerted effort to get as many guards into this training camp as possible because we can't just think about now, we also have to think about the future. She is one of the best young players in the league and deserves to be there."